Emergency motion on Palestine – on the 70th anniversary of the NAQBA

The following motion was passed on Tuesday 22nd May (as amended)

This Sheffield TUC expresses anger and outrage at the merciless killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli state security forces during the current protests, culminating in the slaughter of 52 Palestinians – men women and children – on Monday 14th May 2018. We utterly condemn the IDF’s use of live ammunition which has led to the deaths of scores of Palestinian demonstrators and many hundreds injured in the current period of protests. We condemn too the use of drones for the first time to drop tear gas on demonstrators, a disturbing new technique for suppressing disturbances.

We support the Palestinian people of Gaza in their legitimate protests against their enforced removal from the current land of Israel in 1948 and their subsequent confinement within the small enclave of Gaza – rightly referred to the as the largest open air prison in the world.

The world must be reminded that the 1948 Palestinian exodus – referred to as the Naqba or “catastrophe” – occurred when more than 700,000 (more than 80% of those residing in what became Israel) Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, and between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages were destroyed. In May 1948 the Israeli state declared its independence and subsequently passed legislation preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes or reclaiming their property. In one of the worst atrocities committed by extremist Jewish terrorist groups, the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948, over 100 Palestinians were murdered and many bodies were mutilated, spreading fear amongst the Palestinians population and leading many to flee for their lives. The Naqba goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which cannot be resolved without addressing the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.

We also condemn President Trump for not only deciding to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem thereby denying the legitimate claim of the Palestinians to East Jerusalem as their future capital, but also for timing its official opening on the 70th anniversary of the Naqba which can only been interpreted as a deliberate provocation. Sheffield TUC also expresses its disgust and contempt for the public pronouncements of the Israeli state and the US administration in which they blame the 52 deaths of Palestinians on Monday 14th May on Hamas for calling the demonstration in the first place. We also condemn  the USA for vetoing a call by many countries for a UN investigation into the killings.

We fully support Palestine Solidarity Campaign in its protests and offer our deep sorrow and condolences to the many Palestinian families who lost their loved ones to bullets fired by Israeli security forces. We fully support the Palestinians right to demonstrate angrily at the illegal border dividing Gaza from Israel in protest at 70 years of injustice and the absence of any meaningful support for their cause from most of the leading nations in the world including our own.

We warmly applaud Jeremy Corbyn for speaking out forcibly in support of the Palestinians and his explicit condemnation of the killings of civilian demonstrators by Israeli security forces. We join him in calling for the world to wake up to the unsustainable injustice that is the Middle East conflict and for renewed international effort to secure a just and lasting peace that gives Palestinians their freedom, their land and statehood.